HILLSBORO, Ore. – Three separate cougar spottings were reported around a Hillsboro wetlands preserve, prompting the city to ask state officials for assistance.
On Monday, Hillsboro Parks and Recreation staff said someone called to say they saw a cougar at the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve.
Then, around 8:30 a.m. Thursday, a second sighting was reported.
That prompted parks and recreation officials to ask for assistance from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“A homeowner reported seeing a cougar from inside her home, then observed the animal leave on its own,” said Mary Loftin of Hillsboro Parks & Recreation.
Then, just after 2 p.m., Hillsboro resident Stan Hayes was working in his hazelnut orchard near the preserve when he spotted a cougar.
“We made eye contact – he was looking at me, I was looking at him, and I went, OK, you don’t panic and you don’t run, you don’t scream and you get very calm,” Hayes said. “I could actually see the pupils in his eyes looking at me. It was amazing.”
Hayes did exactly what Loftin says people should do if they see a cougar. The big cats will often retreat if they can.
“Leave the animal a way to escape,” she said. Maintain eye contact and don’t run, because that could trigger a chase response in cougars.
Loftin also recommended people who live in cougar country keep their kids close, dogs on leashes and hike in groups.
Thursday evening, ODFW officials said they found no trace of a cougar at the wildlife reserve.
Hillsboro staff said they plan to reassess the situation Friday.
Tim Gordon contributed to this report.